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Family Table is a Family Tradition for Jill and Stephen Kramer
January 14, 2019
Family Table is a Family Tradition for Jill and Stephen Kramer

Posted by JF&CS 

Jill and Stephen Kramer and their children volunteering with Family Table.

Why volunteer with JF&CS? For Jill and Stephen Kramer, as well as their 8- and 6-year-old children, it’s all in the name. As Jill put it, “– it’s Jewish, it's service, it’s for children and families.”

The Kramers volunteer each month with Family Table, a food pantry program that serves more than 100 towns – and more than 500 families each month – across Greater Boston, the North Shore, and the South Area. Last October, in order to help even more people, they sponsored the month’s distributions of food for families in need.

Dedicated to Giving Back

The Kramers have been volunteering with JF&CS and Family Table for nearly a decade. Volunteering has always been a core value for the Kramers, starting long before they even met. Both Jill and Stephen have been involved with philanthropy in the Jewish community for as long as they can remember.

Jill currently serves on the JF&CS Center for Basic Needs Assistance advisory committee. Stephen, who spent time in various leadership roles at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, including the Board, serves as Chief Executive Officer of Bright Horizons, a leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, back-up child/elder care, and educational advising. Giving back guides the Kramers both at home and at work – and these values are what inspire the Kramers to volunteer with Family Table.

The Perfect Family Activity

The Kramers wanted a volunteer opportunity that they could do as a family where both of their young children could take an active role. With Family Table, they found both.

On Sundays, all four of the Kramers work together to pack and then deliver groceries. Jill and Stephen both pointed out the tangible nature of Family Table as something particularly rewarding. According to Jill, “Family Table is a unique case where you can see the impact you’re making – you can touch it, you can feel it.” Being able to see, first-hand, how you’re making a difference makes the experience even more meaningful.

Showing their children how to help others is important to Jill and Stephen, especially as their children grow into the phase of asking “why” during every activity. “Our children are at the age when they ask a lot of questions, and volunteering is when many of the conversations about tikkun olam occur,” said Stephen. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to talk about the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate and need the support of Family Table. It’s a privilege to show them the importance of helping others.”

Passing On Their Values

Volunteering with Family Table helps Jill and Stephen pass on the values of their own family. While their older child was only a toddler when she started volunteering at Family Table, she was still able to be present and help. Now, both children are old enough to appreciate what the family is doing. “Ella and Evan have the ability to understand and participate in a tangible way,” said Stephen. “We think that’s incredibly important; we were both raised to understand the importance of volunteering and charity. Starting early with our children and impressing upon them our family’s values will hopefully stay with them over their lifetime.”

Volunteering at Family Table provides an outcome the Kramers can share with their children – they can see who and how they are helping when delivering groceries. They can help Jewish families in need provide for their families and celebrate Jewish holidays. While many families are Jewish, some are not. Family Table serves everyone it can in the community. In fact, in the last year, volunteers packed more than 26,000 bags and made more than 2,600 grocery deliveries to clients who might otherwise go without. 

The Kramers aren’t done volunteering at Family Table. As Jill shared, “It’s something that, G-d willing, we will be doing for many more years – and I hope that Ella and Evan will have the opportunity to do it with their children.”

If you would like to volunteer at a Family Table food distribution, please contact us at familytable@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-5593 and fill out this application form. A schedule of upcoming distribution days can be found here.

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